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Rugby concussion dangers are finally being recognised, says player's grieving father

By David Young

Published 22/09/2015

Schoolboy rugby player Ben Robinson
Schoolboy rugby player Ben Robinson
Ben's father Peter Robinson

The father of a Northern Ireland schoolboy who died in 2011 after being concussed during a schools rugby match said last night that "the penny has finally dropped" about the dangers of concussion in the sport.

Peter Robinson, father of tragic Carrickfergus teenager Ben Robinson, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph last night as a BBC Panorama investigation highlighted the increasing dangers of concussion in rugby.

Figures for concussion injuries in rugby have doubled over the past five years, the programme claimed.

Dr Martin Raftery, Chief Medical Officer for World Rugby, told the programme: "There's no doubt that the biggest area that we know where concussion is going to occur is in the tackle, so that will help us to look at the tackle and see what we can do to make it safer.

"My job is to identify risk and then look for solutions and then present those solutions to the law makers to make the changes that will bring about protection of the athlete."

Mr Robinson, who now lives in Edinburgh, last night welcomed the high-level commitment to address the injury that claimed his son's life.

"I think the fact that Dr Raftery is saying that 'something has to change' means that the penny is dropping.

"Rugby is a product.

"Concussion is not a good thing to be associated with rugby.

"The rugby authorities really do not want mums and dads stopping their kids from playing rugby.

"I played rugby for years," the former policeman said.

"I know the benefits of sport.

"But, unfortunately, I know the risks as well.

"After Ben's death, the coroner said that lessons needed to be learned - and it seems like all of a sudden people have sat up and we are now seeing change."

And Mr Robinson revealed that he will be launching concussion lesson plans for Northern Ireland's schools at the end of this month, in association with the Department of Education.

"That means that concussion awareness will be built into the school sports curriculum.

"That's the most important thing - a change in culture around head injuries.

"People talk about concussion like its a bruised ankle: it's not - it's a serious brain injury."

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